ALERT CONTENT PLACEHOLDER

​​​​Back at Home

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Go to the hospital nearest emergency room if you have:​

  • Chills or a fever that goes higher than 38​℃ and does not go away after you take Tylenol.
  • Your incision bleeds or fluid or pus leaks from it.
  • Redness, swelling or increased pain under your incision or on your neck that keeps getting worse.
  • Pain, redness or swelling in your calf or your leg.
  • Any stabbing pain in your chest, or shooting pain in your back.
  • Tingling, numbness of the fingers or toes or around the mouth that does not go away after taking calcium doses as directed.
  • Difficulty breathing, shortness of breath and chest pain.
  • Trouble swallowing or trouble coughing.
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You may have some changes to your voice after surgery, which are usually temporary. You may also feel like something is stuck in your throat or that your wound area is numb. This feeling is also common after surgery.

People who have their entire thyroid removed will need to take thyroid supplementation after surgery. Those who have half of their thyroid removed, will have their thyroid hormone levels checked at the post-operative visit.

How can I take care of myself when I go home?​

Food

You may eat, drink and speak normally after your surgery. Your throat may feel sore after the surgery. Some people prefer soft foods. Drink plenty of water for 24 to 48 hours after surgery. Do not drink alcohol for 48 hours after surgery or until you have stopped taking your prescription pain medication.

Bowel Movements

Your prescription pain medication may make you constipated. Eat more foods that are high in fibre (like fruits vegetables and bran cereal), and drink lots of water during the day. You can take medication like Milk of Magnesia to help you with regular bowel movements. Your surgeon may also prescribe a stool softener.

Activity

Do your daily activities again when you feel ready. As you recover, you might get tired easily. Listen to your body and don’t do more than you can handle. The time it takes for you to recover depends on many things:

  • How sick you were before surgery.
  • How old you are.
  • How active you were before surgery.

Driving

Do NOT drive a car or use machinery/ power tools unless you have stopped your prescription pain medication and you can turn your head to see your car side view mirrors. This is usually about 3 days.

Bathing

  • You can shower or wash your hair the day after your surgery.
  • Use a mild soap like Ivory or Glycerin and baby shampoo for about 1 week after the surgery.
  • You do not need to keep the tape over the incision dry, but when you finish bathing or showering make sure to pat the incision dry. Do not rub.
  • Do not take a bath over the incision or swim for 2 weeks.

Sleeping

  • You can shower or wash your hair the day after your surgery.
  • Use a mild soap like Ivory or Glycerin and baby shampoo for about 1 week after the surgery.
  • You do not need to keep the tape over the incision dry, but when you finish bathing or showering make sure to pat the incision dry. Do not rub.
  • Do not take a bath over the incision or swim for 2 weeks.
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Medications

Take the pain medication prescribed by your doctor as directed. If your doctor prescribed thyroid hormone (Thyroxin) before surgery or when you go home, continue to take this medication too.

If your doctor prescribed calcium pills, do NOT take them at the same time as Thyroxin. Calcium may interfere with the medication absorbing in your body. Talk to the pharmacist about the best time to take Thyroxin. If you have had your entire thyroid gland removed, you will be started on thyroid replacement therapy and sometimes, calcium pills and calcitriol. The level of calcium in your body may be low due to trauma to the parathyroid glands. If you develop numbness and tingling in your fingers, toes or around your mouth, this may be a sign of low calcium. Take extra calcium pills as mentioned below.

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How do I take care of my incisions?​

The stitches in the incision will dissolve on their own and do not need to be removed by your doctor. There will be steri-strips or skin glue directly over your incision. They may peel away on their own over the next 10 to 14 days. If not, your doctor will remove them on your first visit after surgery or you can take them off yourself 2 weeks after surgery. Once the steri-strips (or glue) come off, there are some products that you can use for your wound. Talk with your surgeon about what products are best for you. Your surgeon may also recommend that you use sunscreen when you go outside to prevent your wound from discolouring.

Wh​o do I call if I experience complications?

If you have new symptoms and don’t know what to do, do not wait. Get medical advice or help if you are concerned.

If you have numbness and tingling of your fingers or around your mouth:

  • Take an extra dose of calcium 1000 mg pills (or 2 pills of Elemental Calcium 500 mg).
  • Wait 15 minutes. If the tingling and numbness does not go away, take another dose of calcium 1000 mg pills (or 2 pills of Elemental Calcium 500 mg).
  • If after the third dose the tingling and numbness are still there, call your surgeon to get a calcium blood test.

If you had your surgery at Toronto General Hospital:
Call your Clinical Nurse Coordinator: 416 340 4665

If you are calling after hours, call the Nursing Unit where you stayed after your surgery:
Consolidated Surgical Short-Stay Unit at TGH: 416 340 3521
ENT/Head & Neck and Plastics Surgical Oncology Inpatient Unit: 416 340 3224

If you had your surgery at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre:
Short Term Care Unit – 18B: 416 946 4501 ext. 5510

Go to the hospital nearest emergency room if you have:

  • Chills or a fever that goes higher than 38℃​ and does not go away after you take Tylenol.
  • Your incision bleeds or fluid or pus leaks from it.
  • Redness, swelling or increased pain under your incision or on your neck that keeps getting worse.
  • Pain, redness or swelling in your calf or your leg.
  • Any stabbing pain in your chest, or shooting pain in your back.
  • Tingling, numbness of the fingers or toes or around the mouth that does not go away after taking calcium doses as directed.
  • Difficulty breathing, shortness of breath and chest pain.
  • Trouble swallowing or trouble coughing.

Call your doctor if you have any questions or concerns.